Understanding multiple clouds can yield big career dividends for developers. But COBOL can do that too, and here’s why.
While most developers are proficient in just one cloud, if there is one, there are smart reasons to become proficient in at least two, as Google’s Forrest Brazeal has done. argued. As the thinking goes, no enterprise can resist the gravity of running services from more than one cloud, making managing diverse environments a valuable skill.
If this is true for multicloud environments, wouldn’t something similar be true for hybrid cloud environments? More specifically, shouldn’t it apply to COBOL programmers with cloud expertise?
The need for modernization
COBOL was created in the 1960s by researchers at IBM. Decades later, COBOL is no more crack someone’s top 25 list soon, but it is still ubiquitous. by some estimates, there are still over 220 billion lines of COBOL code in production. Eighty percent of personal transactions depend on COBOL. So does your money, with 43% of the banking systems running COBOL.
TO SEE: Research: Managing multicloud in the enterprise; benefits, barriers and most popular cloud platforms (Tech Republic Premium)
Despite this prevalence of COBOL, relatively few developers are aware of it, and those who are tend to be older: 41.7% of COBOL developers are 45-50 years old and only 11.5% are under the age of 35.
If you are one of those younger developers, this is an opportunity.
When pressed to determine which IT budget categories would be cut last if a recession hit, digital transformation comes second only to security, according to Morgan Stanley Research. When companies talk about digital transformation, they are talking about modernizing legacy systems, among other things. Those systems include mainframes that run COBOL.
Enterprises will tend to put off the difficult task of modernizing mainframe applications, but like TCS (the global systems integrator) written“By modernizing mainframes, companies can significantly reduce their technical debt. In an integrated mainframe cloud environment, enterprises can leverage the flexibility of the cloud to run business applications and optimize costs and bulk on the mainframe for transaction and compute power.”
At some point, the costs of modernizing COBOL-powered mainframes will be outweighed by its benefits. What is lacking is the expertise to do this.
Talking about COBOL and cloud
scrolling COBOL Jobs from Indeed.com, and you’ll find that most of them are focused on maintaining legacy mainframe applications. That’s a good use of COBOL expertise, but it’s not the best use.
Brazeal states that “expanding your professional speaking skills to at least two of the three major US cloud providers (Google Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure) offers some unique, future-optimized career opportunities. As companies’ cloud attitudes become more complex, they have need technical leaders and decision makers who understand their full cloud footprint,” typically involving more than one cloud and many non-cloud.
TO SEE: AWS Lambda, A Serverless Computing Framework: A Cheat Sheet (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)
In other words, while companies often rely on SIs (system integrators) such as TCS or Accenture to help them modernize applications, they also rely on their own employees to guide such changes. Just as it would be helpful for an employee to understand multiple clouds to provide an “organization-wide understanding of your technology landscape”, it would also be helpful for employees to understand legacy COBOL applications to better think about how they’re doing it. best be moved to the cloud.
As explosive as cloud growth has been, it remains less than 10% of global IT spending. That means there’s an incredible amount of on-premises code, including COBOL, waiting to be modernized. Sure, you could and should learn the cool kid languages like Python and Rust, but if you want to make yourself indispensable to your business as it tries to modernize, then maybe you should learn COBOL.
Disclosure: I work for MongoDB, but the views expressed herein are mine.